Amtrak train 501 embarked on its journey this morning around 6:00 a.m. running down a new bypass that was expected to “avoid slow curves and “single track tunnels on the BNSF Railway mainline tracks near Point Defiance and along southern Puget Sound” [Source: The Seattle Times]. No train has ever taken this route, until today, and the outcome has left several injured and some dead. According to the news source, the train derailed from its path and fell off a bridge over Interstate 5 near Mounts Road between Lakewood and Olympia.
The image of the incident was shocking, almost as though it was a scene out of an action movie. One train car was sitting beneath the bridge, parallel to the roadway. Another was hanging off the rail bridge that crosses I-5 horizontally. Cars were stopped and individuals were standing outside their vehicles in utter shock at what had just happened right before their eyes.
Was this new bypass flawed?
While the project had good intentions, something went wrong as the train managed to come off the tracks. The purpose of this $181 million project was to reroute “passenger trains to an inland route on an existing rail line that runs along the west side of I-5 through south Tacoma, Lakewood and DuPont and then reconnects back to the BNSF Railway main line near Nisqually on the east side of I-5.” The tracks were designed to handle higher speeds, however, they aren’t owned by Amtrak. According to CBS News, they are maintained by a freight railroad. While the train is able to carry up to 250 people, it was reported that there were approximately 78 passengers along with five crew members on board.
Because the accident is still under investigation, the reason for it is still unclear.
It was also reported by a spokesperson with St. Joseph’s Medical Center that about 77 passengers were transported to different hospitals in various counties and four of those patients are being treated for severe injuries. Triage tents were even set up at the scene of the Amtrak train crash so aid could be rendered immediately. One of the passengers on board Amtrak train 501 stated that at least seven cars derailed from the tracks and that the emergency doors weren’t functioning properly. Passengers were forced to kick out the train windows to exit.
This project began back in 2010 and had a hefty budget. While one would expect the project to be flawless, it just goes to show that anything can happen, even if millions of dollars are invested into it.
With incidents such as these that result in several injuries, it is important that the victims receive the financial support they deserve from the parties who might be at fault. The medical expenses alone are going to bog them down and they may even need to obtain legal representation from a Washington accident lawyer to help them recover the compensation they deserve.